Showing posts from August, 2009

mushroom compost and peak oil hummous

The good bits: 1. shovelled the newly arrived mushroom compost onto the punga raised bed and then sowed lots of seeds in it. 2. made three loaves of bread and a double batch of hummous and made up nine packets of four hummous sandwiches, seven of which are now in the freezer.

The useless bits: 1-a big number. the many things I did not protect from Brighid. Leaving my best sewing scissors in the lounge where she found them and cut up Fionn's precious league team photo for which we paid $15 only two days ago. The dried apricots. The liquid soap. The toothpaste. The state of the bathroom generally. The state of the house generally.

Shall I go back to the good bits then?

At coffee group this morning, I was given some pea and sunflower seedlings. The sunflowers need a bit more mollycoddling I think, but I have planted the peas in the newly filled punga raised bed and covered each one with a 3 litre juice bottle with the bottom cut out of it. This is to protect the peas from the …

Coriander surprise

Sitting here typing my gardening day up, drinking kefir, for all the world like a hippy who did not have KFC for lunch, or spend the evening at a rugby league prizegiving...

Turns out that our lovely new chooks adore bok choy. I weeded out all the lovely yellow flowered plants which ran almost straight from small seedling to seed in the recent warmth and the children fed it to the chooks. Behind the bok choy I had sown some beneficial insect blend and the hardier of this mix have been flopping round green and frothily. I also have some rocket in this wee patch. Hidden amongst it are three coriander plants, all looking quite healthy and completly invisible to me until today. I sowed the coriander seed last year and thought it a flop attempt. So I have weeded all the plants out except I have left the rocket (seeding, but I am getting into this self-seeding thing lately), the coriander and the alyssum. I sowed some miner's lettuce, some radishes and some mesclun lettuce mix in…


The blessed relief of Friday. August and September are crazy months here and Fridays at least involve me staying at home getting to do home things.

The chooks are settling in well. They are not so tame on arrival as our first chooks were but each day they get a little more confident when I come along with food. I boiled up swede and barley and vegetable peelings for them yesterday. A huge pot full. No eggs yet. The last two nights have been calmer on the wind front which hopefully is a little more pleasant for my five chooks. I am very very happy to have chooks again.

I am growing things inside again. I am starting off with kefir again after a break of several months. I made bread this morning using a wheat leaven. I've got a little bit of rye left (I liked my rye starter earlier this year) but have moved to wheat loaves as my flour supplier is out of rye until next season. A few weeks ago I made carrot and ginger pickle from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions book…


Huge storm last night, a tough introduction for our new chooks. But they seem well today. They don't yet associate me with food and when I go to see them I can observe their potterings as if I wasn't there. One of the roosts blew down in the storm last night but the stronger one remains and tonight I went out with the torch and found all five sharing the surviving roost.

This afternoon I had a poultry adventure of a different kind. I met the very lovely Mr Munn who taught Raelene and I how to skin a young chook. He killed two of Raelene's roosters and we followed his guidance and had a go at one each. You miss out on the skin this way, but it is a lot faster than plucking. I have one rooster in the fridge as I type. Tomorrow will be stirfry or chicken pie and stock making and Friday (assuming I don't go on kitchen strike) will be chicken risotto. Mr Munn, who I'm guessing is in his seventies, learnt these skills from his mother. His family raised lots of c…

Chook heaven again

I collected five beautiful Brown Shaver point of lay chooks this afternoon and met the young boy who has raised them. They are in excellent condition and I was impressed all round.

It is totally wonderful to have chooks again. I put them in the run and, despite appalling weather here, went out to see them about six times between 4 and 6.30pm. Favourite Handyman and Fionn made roosts for them earlier in August and they are sleeping on them. Wonderful to see and if this keeps up, then our nesting box won't be so quickly full of poo like it was with our first chooks who preferred to sleep where they laid. But then I did shut them in the nesting box for the first 24 hours of them living with us....

leftovers project

Hurray for Corrine! It was Corrine who commented recently on using leftover porridge in bread. So today I used the leftover porridge to make oat bread, using a mix of this long rise oat bread recipe and this faster one. It has turned out beautifully, and the biggest problem will be that I will eat lots of it which isn't good for me. I have a vegetarian loaf recipe much used in my student days which I resurrected last week. That has rolled oats in it and with a bit of tinkering could accomodate leftovers from the breakfast saucepan quite easily. I will post that later in the week.

This morning I snuck outside while the children weren't watching and sowed purple sprouting broccoli, broccoli de cicco, leeks carentan giant, celery for cutting and corn salad vert de cambrai. The first four are in seedling punnets and the last straight into the ground. Later I realised I had planted the leeks too early. Last year was too late. ah well.

I got back inside to discover Brighid w…

Growing and cooking

Another pretend home school day while the boy healed his chest cough. All those vitamins and cod liver oil and probiotics I threw down his throat seem to have helped immensely. Looks like he will be able to play in the league semi-finals tomorrow after all.

But children smildren, the point really is that we got to bake and garden almost all day without bells shaping our lives. Banana and choc chip muffins, mini quiches and chocolate chippie biscuits. The freezer now contains plenty of good food for school lunches next week. Later on I made apple crumble for pudding and turned leftovers from earlier in the week into nachos. But more about leftovers later.

In the garden I pulled out a blackcurrant bush which looks the weaker of the three and is in a good place for more vegetables. Fionn and I dug a large whole and buried the bokashi. I am so excited to announce that we collect five new chooks on Monday, less than 72 hours away! The scraps situation is ridiculous without chooks to…

Mucking around not earning money

I finished my paid work part of Tuesday soon after 11am, collected my daughter and went home. It is wet and rather cool here today and I had to make myself stay home and make the place warm and moderately welcoming instead of yielding to the temptation to muck around town doing bits and bobs like the library and ending up buying shop food and generally pulverising the budget and any chance of an orderly home.

Anyway, there I was back at home being good and doing something in the kitchen like cleaning up. That's two days running and don't assume that this is normal for me to be able to see almost the entire kitchen bench so often and so easily. I am pretty adept at running up meals on the tiniest corner of bench top while the dishes wait saggily.

The phone rings. I wasn't sure who it was. Which is logical if you have not yet picked up the receiver but I am a bit freaky on the telephone front and frequently guess correctly who it will be before answering. Guarded in case…


I've become pretty iffy about recycling as per those attractive colour coded bins that are seen (or I once saw) as proof of how environmentally progressive a council is.

So we send out our rubbish into special containers and the plastic gets shipped to China where they have more plastic than they can cope with a anyway and it gets turned into more plastic in unsavoury conditions. We put our glass empties into another container and that may sit in Christchurch doing nothing because there is no market for recycled glass. The cans may or may not be recycled as the world prices for many of these commodities is below the cost of getting them out of New Zealand to these markets.

Is all this fuel for the global transport of our rubbish ethically defensible?

I wonder if historians in fifty years will view the global recycling process as early 21st century imperialism. Rich world super-consumers dump their crap on poor countries and feel virtuous into the bargain.

In our part of the West Co…

Kenwood mixer

Mum and Dad drove over to watch Fionn play league today, then had lunch at our place. As usual, Dad had a wonderful bag of goodies from his garden, this time swedes and potatoes. Huge spuds - I could make gnocchi for all of us from just one his spuds I reckon.

Mum gave me a Kenwood mixer!! She has been planning and plotting this for ages, waiting until she had two good quality second hand mixers of the version widely considered the best around (I forget the number, but it is the dark blue model). Two because she wants my sister and I to both have one. It matters not what we imagine we want in our kitchens (nor whether our brother harbours secret baking longings, though there isn't much evidence of this so far), these are the gifts which she wants to make.

My Mum is a superb cake and biscuit maker who used to win prizes at A & P shows and the like before she got married. After she got married, she was still well known for her excellent kitchen skills but it was mostly Dad a…

Home made

Since I last posted we've wandered through a miasma of tummy bugs. We were all okay enough to attend a very special commitment ceremony/baby welcome on Saturday and I think I've sent Fionn to school once this week. As for the rest of the time...

Although I didn't get my party skirt made for the wedding, I did finish my knitted vest and wore that. I did make my last layby payment on my beautiful new winter boots and wore them. I did sit up the night before and make a wee red bag with buttons and sequins as a present for baby Lilly. I do seem to be getting into the stream of using my sewing machine to make special presents.

I need to get to the wool shop to buy some more double pointed needles and make some hats, but until then, it seems I have that knitting bug where I feel a bit lost if I haven't something to knit as I surf the net. So using some bright yellow wool leftovers from Fionn's sleeveless hoodie, I am making a doll's dress. It's getting a lit…

Killing for fun

Or that is the impression I got. When I got up this morning I saw a dog in our back garden. I went out straight away - there should be no dogs in our back garden as we have (or so we thought) it fenced securely.

The large brown dog showed no inclination to leave the property and indeed seemed more interested in circling the chook run. I figured the chooks weren't at all fazed as they were making no sound.

I got crosser as the dog stayed around until then another dog emerged.

From inside the chook run.

I ran to see the damage and found our three chooks dead on the ground of the run.

They seemed to hear my anger after that and scarpered. There was only one place they could have got through and it involved the two dogs roaming through two other properties and then jumping over our lowest fence.

I was very very lucky that the children had an extraordinary sleep-in and missed all this. Later my lovely friend Nina and her two children came round. The big kids were both off school on acc…

I don't think I am the only one...

Who is diligent one day and disastrous the next. Who owns the ingredients for the next batch of home made washing powder but cannot muster home made lunch today. Who boiled pickled tongue for reasons of adventure and virtue yesterday and now cannot face sampling it.

Who made a shopping list and planned meals and then got so far behind in home life things that I spent $47 on Indian for dinner for all of us earlier this week.

Who would like her daughter to sleep all the way through the night, even when it is around the full moon.

Who can see clearly all the steps required for us all to have food on the table for dinner, clothes in drawers for tomorrow and a warm house but cannot find the energy to execute these steps.

Who supports the ideals of simple home living but actually also finds value in work outside the home. Who can clearly see that that outside work interferes with simple home living. Who works with people who have very unsimple lives. And finds it worthwhile.

I know at a r…

Drastic measures

Slugs have eaten almost all of my six new broccoli plants and nibbled quite a bit of my six new cabbage plants. Now I recall why I was so keen on kale - the slugs don't like it much.

I even thought I would go for slug bait. But Favourite Handyman vetoed that, pointing out that our daughter still likes to eat many things from the garden. So I broke open a bottle of our favourite beer from the fridge and set up some killer drowning stations this afternoon. Usually I wait until someone leaves beer at our place which we don't like the taste of, or one of us falls asleep with the children leaving a half started bottle of beer on the bench overnight.

Brighid and I set off to buy some rocket seed from the garden centre. We seem to have used the last packet up. The only option was one remaining packet of organic rocket seed - $6.70!


For one small packet of something which self seeds more often than many of us would like once summer arrives...

I think it is time I started collecting …

ice cream in the rain

When it rains and rains and hails and rains and pours and buckets down all day, the very best thing to do in a small interlude in the late afternoon is to don coats and boots and go for a walk to the beach.

We got down there and found the stream was a fast moving river and best not crossed, so went walking along the back lane and up through the new estate to the dairy for ice creams. We ate our frozen confections under the shop eave while a blast of heavy rain thundered down and then walked on home to have hot baths and bacon hock, bean and kale soup.

The Christchurch Press had a good article on the 20 free hours of childcare for 3 and 4 year olds scheme in New Zealand, now about to begin it's third year. I can't find it online. It does not point out that the research endorsing free early years 'education' was not universal, but rather showed significant benefits for children who came from deprived homes (e.g. depressed carers, violence). Somehow that got extrapolate…